Cashmere’s Turner Gebers, 15, making big waves in wake surfing and will turn pro next year
The five-year career of wake surfing prodigy Turner Gebers of Cashmere has been nothing short of meteoric. The 15-year-old high school sophomore recently placed second in the semi-pro division at the Centurion World Wake Surfing Championship. With this podium finis, Turner decided to turn Professional in 2023 and compete against the top competition in the world.
While that is an impressive accomplishment on its own, in getting acquainted with this young man I was equally impressed with Turner Gebers the human being. He’s a mature, grounded, fun-loving soul who easily laughs at himself and engages with others in a way that is beyond his years. He’s an outstanding representative of his school and his community, maintaining a 3.8- plus grade point average and also this winter will be playing basketball for the Bulldogs. His dad is proud that Turner works just as hard at school as he does wake surfing.
In wake surfing, competitors perform a sequence of maneuvers behind a boat that creates an ocean style wake, usually traveling at a speed of 11 miles per hour. The skateboard/ocean-style surfing maneuvers called shuvs, lip snaps, Airs, 360s, and 720s. The competition runs are scored by three judges in the boat based on four criteria: “D.I.V.E.” difficulty, intensity, variety and execution.
Turner said he fell in love with wake surfing because of the “sheer bliss” of doing tricks on his board. He and his dad constantly work to perfect new moves and practice them until he can deliver them in the heat of competition.
There have been some humbling moments along the way for Turner, who is known as T-Dog. He was extremely confident that he would get a high place in his first competition when he was 9 years old but ended up placing last. After that, he told himself: “I never want to lose like that again” and vowed to do the work necessary to compete at a high level.
Wake surfing is a family affair in the Gebers household. His father Wade, a Quincy native and Cashmere resident was a placekicker at Western Washington University, and was the first one to catch the bug. Turner followed in his dad’s footsteps and step-mother Kari joined and competes in the Master’s division. Wade, who no longer competes, serves as Turner’s coach.
Wade and Kari talk about how the sport of wake surfing has become an obsession and compulsion for the family. Much of the training happens at Lake Roosevelt during the summer, and at Lake Chelan in the spring and fall. During the school year, it means frequent trips to Chelan after school to practice. Wade says “rain, shine, wind, cold water, glassy water, boat waves, we will practice.”
At the World Wake Surfing Championship in North Carolina, Turner placed second among nine other competitors representing countries all over the world. In his first run, Turner had the bestrun of his competitive career, pulling off two extremely difficult maneuvers, Wade said. He followed that up with another strong showing in the final. The training they do is designed to help Turner peak at the end of the season for the World Championships.
Wade told me it is a disadvantage for Turner to live in a cold weather state and compete against those who live in warmer climates and can train year-round. To compensate, the family travels to Arizona during fall, winter and spring breaks so that Turner can get back on the water. All of this is rather expensive, as Wade acknowledges. If it wasn’t for wake surfing, he’d be retired by now, he said with a laugh. But to Wade it is worth the memories and being able to enjoy the greatest time a father and son can have together.
Now that Turner is headed into the professional ranks, the competition will be a lot tougher and he’ll once again start at the bottom rung of the ladder. He takes it in stride.
Turner is also passionate about helping others succeed in the sport. He will be starting a business next summer giving wake surfing instructions around the region and he helped Kari compete at a high level in her division. “He’s really become a good instructor,” said Wade. “He did an amazing job providing his knowledge of surfing to help Kari earn a 2 nd place podium finish at Worlds this year in the Master’s division,” he added.
Turner seems a bit surprised by his success. “I would never have thought I would be here,” he told me. Don’t be surprised if in a few years Turner is counted among the elite wake surfers in the world.